One the rare occasions when I was allowed to pick out one item from the snack bar at the local pool, I was strategic: The Chipwich has not one but two cookies that envelop vanilla-heavy ice cream studded with dark chocolate chips. Far more bang for my buck than some paltry firecracker pop.
My respect for the ice cream sandwich has only grown in my adulthood, especially since I've started baking my own cookies and spinning my own ice cream. (Although, you can still make great ice cream sandwiches using store-bought ingredients.) It's a portable treat that can be prepared ahead. It will delight children's birthday parties or adult BBQs. And flavor combinations are limitless.
Here are the four steps (if you can call them that) to making an ice cream sandwich:
The most classic option is, of course, chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, but your imagination is the limit. Here are some ideas to get you going (cookie on the left matches with the ice cream on the right):
My (very scientific) conclusion is that a ratio of 1 part cookie to 3 parts ice cream is most manageable. You can pack a lot of ice cream between thin cookies, or spread an Oreo-thin swatch of ice cream between bulkier cookies, but neither will offer the perfect smooth-to-crunchy balance of the 1:3 ratio. If you want your ice cream sandwich to be comfortably handheld, keep your cookie radius to 3-inches or less.
When building your ice cream sandwiches, there are two major considerations: temperature and texture. Start with a room temperature or slightly chilled cookie. If using a cookie that's naturally fragile or crumbly, cut them thick enough or double up so they won't fall apart when smushing the sandwiches together. The cookie with the soundest results has a firm bottom but a soft, dome-like top.
As for the ice cream, you want it to be semi-firm or "scoopable"—not right out of the freezer and not right out of the machine. If using sorbet, there will be a less forgiving sweet spot of perfect softness/not too melty-ness. It’s possible, but you’ve been warned.
Move a parchment paper-covered baking sheet into the freezer. Scoop a ball of ice cream into the center of the bottom of one of the cookies. Form a sandwich with the bottom of a second cookie. Press gently until the ice cream is pushed just outside the border of the cookies. As you work, move the finished ice cream sandwiches into the freezer.
You can gild the lily by decorating the exposed ice cream with "toppings." For example, the chocolate cookies + ginger ice cream would be enhanced by a half dip in melted chocolate and scattering of chopped crystalized ginger. The lemon poundcake rounds + coconut or lemon ice cream can be dusted with toasted coconut flakes and lemon zest. Other options include: coconut flakes, chocolate shavings, freeze-dried raspberries, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, and sprinkles.
Make the sandwiches just before you plan to serve them, or up to 1 day in advance. If you're sandwiching ahead of time, cover the baking sheet well with plastic wrap, so the ice cream doesn't dry out.
That's all there is to it! If you're looking for even more inspiration, here are even more ice cream sandwich ideas:
Tell us: What's your preferred ice cream sandwich combo?